Robert Pearson: a tribute from the CCEd team

Robert Pearson

The Clergy of the Church of England Database would not be what it is today were it not for the remarkable contribution made to the project by a number of volunteer associates who over the years have assisted the core project team in a variety of ways. Over the Christmas period the team received the very sad news that one of our most committed and long-term volunteers, Robert Pearson, had died after a long illness on 23 December 2013.

Robert  Pearson began working at the Wiltshire Record Office (as it was then) as a volunteer in 2002, where he did vital work in indexing the late 17th century clergy ordination papers for the diocese of Salisbury. This coincided fortuitously with the early years of the CCEd project during which the team was recruiting researchers to input the record we had identified as relevant to our purposes in diocesan archives. Robert was enlisted and played a key role in recovering the records of the diocese of Salisbury. He proved a very enthusiastic and reliable inputter, and went on to input records from the Canterbury archives as well. Such was his enthusiasm, in fact, that he later volunteered to join the core project team in the work of linking records to both person and place, and, drawing on his considerable local knowledge of the Salisbury records, continued to assist with the record linkage work up to his death. In October 2003, he was appointed as a part-time archives assistant in the WRO. This employment enabled him progress his career as an archivist and in April 2004 he began part-time distance learning with the University College Wales, Aberystwyth. He graduated with an MSc (Econ) in Archive Administration in 2008. At the end of that year he took on a secondment of 7 hours a week as an archivist at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre while still holding his post as archives assistant. In May 2011 he began work as the archivist cataloguing the archives of the earls of Radnor of Longford Castle, a collection that is deposited in the History Centre. Sadly he did not live to finish this work, but he laid down the arrangement of the collection and managed to list the bulk of the archives. His work will be completed by archivists at the History Centre.

Robert had by this time been suffering from his illness for some time, but he nevertheless undertook an index of records of the Wiltshire militia during the Napoleonic war which he completed, all bar a few months, work which combined his interests in military history and genealogy. Like his continued work for the CCEd project, this will leave a legacy of enduring value to researchers and the Wiltshire historical community, and for which we should all be most grateful.

The CCEd project in particular owes Robert a great deal. Together with his colleague Steven Hobbs, he helped  make the Wiltshire Record Office and then the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre a constant source of encouragement, support and sound advice for the project from which we all benefited. His commitment to the project in the most difficult of circumstances was humbling, as was the fortitude with which he faced his situation. The CCEd team is enormously grateful for his support over the years, and would through this posting both want to publicly acknowledge that gratitude and also to send its sympathy and condolences to Robert’s family in their loss, He will be much missed, and his contribution to the project irreplacable.

Robert’s funeral will take place at Hinton Park burial ground (Christchurch) on Mon 13 Jan 12.30.

Arthur Burns for the CCED team